Google Earth had a part to play in the Mumbai terror attacks

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Washington, May 17: Little did anyone imagine that Google Earth could have been used by terrorists to carry out deadly attacks during the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. The revelation was made by a top US military commander and has warned on the increasing 'democratisation' of technology in future warfare.

The issue was raised by Marine Corps Lt Gen. George J Flynn at the sixth annual 2012 Joint War fighting Conference at Virginia Beach on Tuesday. He commented that the easy availability of information was potentially empowering conventional and non-traditional state actors. He also cited a Harvard Business Review article detailing the Nov 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack as an example of the same.

He added, “All the mission planning was done via Google Earth. There was no investment in technology of [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] platforms or anything like that.”

Flynn stated that terrorists used cellular phone networks as command and control and social media to track and thwart the efforts of Indian commandos.

On terrorists’ capability, he asked, “How much technology or how much investment was made to create that terrorist capability?” He said that the future operating environment in terms of both the technology and the threat will see a sea of change due to the very accessibility of information.

He added, “Space and cyber will continue to play an increased role in events, with each becoming increasingly contested domains -- so it's a new domain that we're going to have to contest. Security challenges will have both local and global aspects, we think, with events occurring across the globe. So the bottom line [is that] if you liked the past challenges of the past 11 years, you will like the future.”

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